On Sunday, January 21st, before the NFL’s AFC Championship Game, CBS posted a teaser video starring John Malkovich, so that viewers could get hyped up before the game. It’s a meta piece that documents a faux process of them creating this teaser for a game that featured a David vs. Goliath story with the New England Patriots and the Jacksonville Jaguars. John Malkovich is this quirky yet brilliant actor who plays the perfect role in a performance that will give you goosebumps and send chills down your spine. Please, please, please watch this video to improve your day, and then follow along as I deconstruct exactly how this epic sensation was created. This is the formula for developing a bone chilling, audience capturing, and viral masterpiece.
0 – 31 seconds
The stage is literally set as John Malkovich overlooks a theater stage and reluctantly and discouragingly reads lines from an upcoming commercial, in which he is about to appear. This intro touches on doubt, regret, skepticism, and disturbance as John complains about the script. He makes mention of it being too complex, uttering, “somebody has gotta put the thesaurus down.” This will come back later.
John sighs and has this puzzled look on his face. It’s one of despair. There is absolutely no hope for this commercial.
48 seconds – 1 minute
This bit is filled with sarcasm and is more light-hearted. The viewer is starting to side with John because of his relatable and warm personality.
John meets the almighty creators, the directors. This is the introduction to the word, “tease”, which is the primary idea of the video.
1:30 – 2:10
Here, the directors are even further minimizing the expectations of the lead role. They tell him this is, “different than what you are used to” and you can see this hungry, empowered look from John as he thinks about how and why his part should be different.
John Malkovich is slowly turning into the unexpected hero, who is going to save the whole show. This is the mighty rising action that features a contentious battle between John and the directors (it’s not that contentious, but you get the point). The teaser has now created its own David vs. Goliath story without the viewer even realizing, as the timid, soft spoken David (John Malkovich) battles the cocky, obnoxious Goliath (the directors) for a chance to dictate the outcome of this teaser.
We revisit the theme of complexity vs. simplicity as John Malkovich begins his impassioned speech. Throw in an incredible camera angle that shoots in between the strings of a harp, and this makes for one of the most visually appealing scenes.
This moment is carried by John’s exceptional storytelling, which relates to the audience because it is a story we all know: David vs. Goliath.
2:35 – 3:05
Here, we have the climax filled with examples, enthusiasm, and fluctuations in Malkovich’s voice that carries this soliloquy. His crescendo, along with the music’s are superb. This is when you start to get the chills as you begin to see David throw everything he has at Goliath.
Malkovich introduces a plot twist, describing not one, but two Goliaths (Tom Brady and Coach Bill Belichick as well as the two directors) which makes the audience think and wonder.
Finally, the intended meaning is clearly and visibly revealed as football highlights embody the screen.
3:40 – 3:57
We are struck by even more intensity, passion, and fire from David, as Goliath stands there motionless. Malkovich gasps for air and is out of breath. He has given it his all and has come out victorious. He reverts back to his original wish of focusing on simplicity.
3:47 – Finish
Malkovich mentions the deterrent of over complication one last time, and there is a long rollout to allow time for it to sink in that Goliath has been defeated, and David has come out a champion.
I share this piece not to spread my love of football, or to teach the story of David vs. Goliath, or to show off the talents of John Malkovich. These things are all well and true, but rather, I share this to demonstrate a formula for inspiration. It’s a methodology that was constructed through deliberate actions, that led to motivation, anticipation, and awe from its viewers.
So if you ever want to create something that is going to inspire, motivate, and go viral, start with a bit of doubt or hesitation, throw in some sarcasm or humor, provide strong transitions, foreshadow and give hints, tell a powerful story that can be thoughtfully interpreted, be specific, build with your rising action, deliver a passionate main argument, and stick to your theme throughout.
It’s that simple. Otherwise, it’s too complicated.
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